Manalapan, New Jersey.
We are going to stop school killings. We are going to put a stop to the violence. We are going to take the bull by the horns and put our heads together and think and think and think and we will come up with strategies and policies that will prevent students from bringing guns to school and killing their classmates and teachers.
So what did you come up with? Metal detectors? A ban on guns? A program to detect stressed-out students and counsel them before they go nuts? A plan to reduce the stress on teenagers? A plan to reduce the stress on society? Improved communications between parents, teachers, students, and police? Come on, tell us!
You are going to bust five-year-olds.
All right. I just know that your school will never have an incident of a five-year-old bringing an assault rifle to class and shooting people now. I just know it.
It was the country prosecutor's idea, in Manalapan, New Jersey. After the shootings at other schools in California and Colorado, he decided that the only solution was "zero tolerance" for threats of violence. Not for actual acts of violence-- for threats of violence.
So when an angry ten-year-old girl who wet her pants because her teacher wouldn't let her go to the bathroom said, "I could just kill her", she was suspended for three days. The police now have her name in their files. Watch this girl-- she's a danger to society!
There have been fifty such suspensions so far. But why are they so reticent? Are they only dealing with the most serious incidents of violent threats? Violence is also caused by greed, jealousy, lust. The next time a 12-year-old says, "I want that," have him fingerprinted-- he'll think twice before stealing. Notice any six-year-olds guzzling Coca-cola? An incipient coke addict-- have him spend a night in the slammer so he knows what his future will be like. Notice any grade sixers holding hands with grade oners? Possible future abuse. Counseling and group therapy, and maybe a prescription drug or two.
Do these thought police patrol the school yard during sports activities? Have they missed any quarterbacks or coaches shouting "hit him, hit him"? Have they checked the library? Lots of pictures to snip. Any children bringing bibles to school? Besides being unconstitutional, there are some rather lurid tales in there about incest, rape, murder. "Unduly fascinated with morbid acts". Perhaps it is a little early for institutionalization.
If you think this is an isolated incident, think again. Check the link above. There's more. There was a nine-year-old who was suspended for "threatening" any classmates who took the last French fries at a cafeteria lunch. He was last seen packing a howitzer. A twelve-year-old was shoved during a football match. The shover received no sanction, but the victim, who shouted something he had heard his parents and friends and television heroes say a million times-- "I'm gonna kill you"-- suspended. A girl suspended because she was planning to blow up a friend's house. One hopes the police burst into her bedroom with proper warrants and authorizations and thoroughly investigated every orifice on on every Barbie doll for evidence of explosive materials.
And of course, in Kingston, Ontario, a grade 11 student was suspended after a dramatic reading of a piece of his own fiction in class describing how an alienated student bombed his own school. His classmates, who had ostracized the boy, thought it was judgment day. The student was arrested and strip-searched and incarcerated for 34 days (while two students in Quebec, who had actually set off a bomb at school, but who were popular with their classmates, were released on bail after a few hours).
Down the street, of course, for a mere $9, any student at the school could enjoy two hours of far greater mayhem, also fictional, without repercussions. (The boy's 14-year-old brother, who is developmentally delayed, was harassed by students as a result of the incident. He made some verbal threats and was also arrested.)
I'm sorry if this offends you, but there is no other word for these people. They are idiots.
They say, Klebold and Harris (the Columbine killers) were known to have made violent statements before they came to the school with bombs and guns. Klebold and Harris were also known to have guns before they came to the school with guns and bombs. In the current climate of U.S. culture, that was not considered a warning sign.
Do you have children? Can you count how many times they have said to each other, in anger, "I'm going to kill you"? Have you ever seriously believed they were about to commit the act?
The rationale is that there is a tide of killings taking place at schools all across America. The perception is that this is a rising tide, threatening to overwhelm society with murder and mayhem. The only solution is to nip it in the bud. But of course, that is not really a solution at all. Nobody has said, "this is a solution". Nobody has demonstrated that it works.
There is strong evidence that the same approach to marijuana has had no effect at all on the use of hard drugs. There is over-whelming evidence that "zero-tolerance" applied to the drug problem has been a colossal failure.
There is further irony in the fact that many of the actual violent acts at schools, including killings, have been committed by students who were... suspended. So the very policy that is supposed to save us all has been demonstrated to fail, just as the zero-tolerance policy towards marijuana has demonstrably failed.
The truth is that there is no "rising" tide of violence in our schools. There are a number of small, isolated incidents. There has never not been a number of small isolated incidents. The statistics-- those annoying facts-- do not show anything like what people tell you they think is happening. When people go, "What is happening to our society", they are simply reacting thoughtlessly and without information.
What is really happening to our society is that the profusion of law suits for civil liability has indeed reached epic proportions creating an atmosphere in which the hysterical attitudes of paranoid idiots preval, because nobody wants to be the one who said he didn't do everything possible to prevent this week's catastrophe of the month.
Copyright © 2001 Bill Van Dyk All rights reserved.